Tweed Dales co-authored with Donald Smith, had its origin in the European "seeing stories" landscape narrative project under which teams from Lisbon, Aachen, Florence and Edinburgh undertook to collect and compare the folk tales and stories associated with rural and urban landscapes in their areas.
Project leader Donald Smith teamed up with Stuart McHardy to work on Calton Hill, the chosen urban landscape feature, and with Elspeth Turner on the Tweed, chosen rural feature.
Donald's associations were with the Upper Tweed, whereas Elspeth's were with the middle and lower reaches. As younger selves they had listened to family members and worked their way through family book collections. The opportunity to root out the stories and lore associated with the tributaries of the Tweed would give new insights into the mindsets of successive generations. Although down the ages songs and stories dropped and picked up details to adapt them to the times, generally they retained key elements and threw light on older belief systems. Many referenced beliefs that had some association with specific landscape features. Fairy stories were for example most associated with hills
Not surprisingly Walter Scott and James Hogg were two writers whose works reflected an appreciation of the close links between landscape features, folklore, legends and stories. Travelling the Border roads to understand these links proved a hugely enjoyable treasure hunt.
We wondered if the stories of townsfolk in areas with similar history and topography might be similar despite local rivalries. Each of the dales explored however had it turned out not only a unique landscape but also a distinctive mix of tales. 
Tweed Dales takes armchair readers, drivers and cyclists on six journeys starting and ending at the Tweedbank terminus of the Borders Railway - each prefaced with a brief description of what is distinctive about its geology, topography and history and the writings of those who lived and visited there.
The Eildon Hills sit on the junction between the hard grey rocks of the uplands and the soft red sandstone supporting the lowlands. A hill fort built by native Britons preceded arrival of the Romans who called the place Trimontium, then came Christianity with Melrose and Dryburgh Abbeys and control of the area for a time from Northumberland.  We meet two Scotts here - Walter Scott a wizard with words and collector of Border ballads and stories, and Michael Scot one of medieval Europe's brightest minds credited with translating Aristotle from Arabic to Latin who was believed in his native country to be a wizard and to be buried in Melrose Abbey with his book of spells.
The Ettrick and Yarrow valleys have but one town Selkirk but distinctive histories reflected in their contrasting stories. The Royal hunting ground of Ettrick Forest was a perfect hiding place for outlaws, rebels and secret gatherings, with Wallace rallying his troops here. Yarrow ballads though are dominated by melancholy tales of feuding families and doomed lovers. Both share a good number of fairy stories, with the ballad of Tamlane at Carterhaugh, entrance to Ettrickdale, and tales of witches and strange happenings abounding along the Yarrow.too. Walter Scott chose Newark Castle as the setting for The Lay of the Last Minstrel.

Christianity's spread from the west put Tweeddale in St Mungo's patch. Scott wrote his poems at Ashiesteil, and Buchan took up residence at the mouth of the Manor valley, styled himself Lord Tweedsmuir and was inspired to verse. Robert and William Chambers from Peebles established an internationally renowned publishing business devoted to making knowledge accessible, and as well as being a geologist, historian and collector Robert anonymously preceded Darwin with his ‘Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation’. 
The hills above Galadale, Wedale and Lauderdale were once grazed by abbey-owned flocks that supplied European and Scottish textile-producers with wool. The nineteenth century mechanisation of textile production saw rapid growth of Galashiels which eclipsed Lauder and Earlston. Burns rewrote a ballad as the town's song, Braw Braw Lads of Gala Water. Thomas the Rhymer of Earlston became the first Scots poet to write in English. A ballad telling of his meeting with the Queen of the Fairies and his prophecies began to circulate in print in Europe a century after his death.

The lower lying more cultivable land to the east containing Kelso in the centre was an area with a particularly volatile history of border tussles that saw Roxburgh Castle and its once-important royal burgh disappear virtually overnight. Poets like George Henderson later lamented the effect of agricultural change on the landscape. Gypsy royalty are encountered at Yetholm, and minister WJ Sime gave every child in Smailholm a copy of his collected letters to The Scotsman sent anonymously recording weather and nature events a century or so ago. These include mention of ongoing practices like bowing to the new moon and placing a piece of southernwood in family Bibles.

Teviotdale features a fertile landscape with Jedburgh to the south and, lying in the long-ungovernable hills up river, Hawick, a later developer due to the modernisation of textile production. Stories here feature reivers, family feuds and witches. Deep-seated belief in the power of the fairies also persisted late in this area, e.g. the belief that the blue bonnet of a new baby's father must be kept beside the bed to prevent the baby being switched for a fairy changeling. 

And so back to the Eildons at the conclusion of the journeys. Donald and Elspeth hope to persuade Luath to produce a companion volume for the tributaries of the lower Tweed and perhaps a second edition of Tweed Dales.